The first is a very, very clean Chevy II which was the series that, after a year or two, spawned the first Nova. This car, parked on a street in Mar Vista, looks amazingly original, including the plain-Jane interior. I would guess that its the 1962 edition. Yikes! that means its half a century old! Love the basic-ness and cleanness of the car; the Chevy II was GM's answer to the Ford Falcon.
And here's another Chevy II (sorry, Nova) I caught on the street in Carpinteria that's anything but basic. My guess is 1969 or 1970.
That paint didn't come out of the factory paintshop; neither did those wheels. The tires aren't standard-issue either. This is a lean, clean, semi-street racing machine and very Californian in its get-down-to-business aesthetic. Something deep in the California car aesthetic seems borrowed, inspire or inhaled from the fact of car guys growing up and living beside the Pacific coast--the long, powerful, bare, almost barren look of those west coast beaches. The air sometimes silver with mist, and usually cooler than you would expect. Sometimes the mist is gone, and then the light is pellucid. Almost too sharp a light to question. It's an action-oriented coastline: all that surfing, all those shoreline highways. The Pacific there has a sharp tangy smell, a bit astringent--like gasoline?--quite different than the gamey scent of the gentler, wilier seas here in Maine. The ocean out there seems relentless as it booms in those long, thumping waves from Hawaii or Japan.
Jim Donnelly offers vignettes of California car history in Hemmings Classic Car, June 2012:
"Kids hauling jalopies up to the high desert to run on the dry lakes, the earliest freeways, surfers in castoff woodie wagns, countless people who did shift work at Van Nuys and Pico Rivera, Johnny von Neumann selling Porsches, Top Fuel diggers smoking 'em all the way to the Long Beach finish line, Harley Earl doing custom coachwork for Don Lee, Offenhausers by Meyer-Drake winning Indy 26 times, smog, the creation of artworks with lead and Carson tops, the lowriders of La Raza"--
Anyway I like the way clean California street machines look. Never overdressed.
Didn't peek under the hood to see what was going on but this car left the factory with the venerable Chevrolet 350 engine, which would have provided considerable momentum even before a tuning. The thing I like about it is that California cleanness. The absence of gewgaws. Looks like maybe a billet grill--don't like those much--and that chrome strip on the rear window is not original, and is not needed, and should be deleted immeidately---but otherwise the exterior has been left alone. It's possible that the car originally had chrome side-strips and these have been removed. Good. Both of my Chevrolets of that era (a 1969 Brookwood wagon, and the 1975 C10 truck) were improved in looks and vibe by subtracting the chrome side ding-strips. They affected the whole gestalt of the car. Chevrolets--cars and pickups--of that era look much, much sleeker without them.
The red metallic paint is beautiful and actually subtle, for a red. The black interior--bench seat, column shift--looks original, or restored to near-original. It's fastidious. Plain jane. It's the sort of car that a high school principal might have owned, out of the factory. A sleeper.